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Bitcoin: The Poor Man’s Shortcut

“Africa just skipped landlines and went [straight] to wireless.”

This is what Brad Stephens, co-founder and managing partner of Blockchain Capital, has to say about developing countries that adapt to Bitcoin technology. He made this observation during an interview with Forbes magazine where his San Francisco-based early stage investment fund was featured.

“They’re essentially skipping traditional banks. They don’t need branches, and they don’t need tellers. They’re going straight to the bank in your pocket in a decentralized, non-bank way.”

America is a highly developed country, which is why you can count on a great majority of its citizens to own credit cards and have access to personal loans. This is also why you won’t see Americans ditching their traditional cards and bank habits for something decentralized, digital, and altogether dynamic, such as Bitcoin.

However, it might be a good idea to still give Bitcoin a try.

The cryptocurrency has shown potential in fast-tracking underdeveloped or developing economies such as Africa and Southeast Asia. Bitcoin has served as some sort of shortcut for those who don’t have their own bank accounts, credit cards, and the rebates and rewards that come with having both.

Xapo, a Bitcoin company based in Palo Alto, offers a “bitcoin wallet” and a “bitcoin vault” to 180 countries, most of them developing economies such as India, Russia, Brazil and Indonesia.

Wences Casares, CEO of Xapo, states that it is typical for these customers to “have a smartphone but no credit card, and want to shop online.”

More than 90% of the bitcoins stored in Xapo’s vault is owned as a speculative investment by pooled hedge funds, family offices and high-net-worth individuals (HNI) from wealthy countries.  Meanwhile, more than 90% of their customers come from underdeveloped nations in need of a fast track to growth and economic development.

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